news & perspectives

news & perspectives

I hate to think how differently things would have been if it wasn’t for Healthy Families.

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Regina Serverius participated in our Healthy Families program and shares her story and how the Children's Trust impacted her life and the lives of her children. 

My name is Regina and I'm the proud mother Jayden who is 7 and Julian who is 4.

We are living a good life. My children have a safe, healthy, and happy home. I hate to think how differently things would have been if it wasn’t for Healthy Families.  

I want you to know how important this work is. The Children's Trust is breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect.

I was born in Methuen and lived with my bio family in Lawrence when I was little. I loved dancing to the Backstreet Boys with my older sister Jenny. When I was three, my younger brother Mark was born and I announced that he was “my baby.” I protected him. 

My siblings and I grew up with a mom who was emotionally unstable, and a father who was emotionally and physically abusive. 

I felt loved, but not much from my parents. I felt it from my grandmother, aunt, and uncle who lived downstairs. I remember watching TV late and falling asleep on the couch. I’d wake up to go get my brother out of his crib. My parents would often sleep through the day, so we’d go downstairs to eat.

After my grandmother and aunt passed away things got really tough. Their deaths rocked the boat and before too long, the boat sank.

One night, when I was six years old, I remember screaming out the window to my parents. They were going somewhere, and I wanted to go with them. The cops were called, and my father was mad. He threw a backpack full of books at me. That left quite a bruise. 

He went to jail for a few days and a social worker and two other people came to our house. I remember the day they came vividly. They went into the kitchen with my mother and she started crying hysterically. 

I knew something bad was about to happen. I grabbed my baby brother and ran into his room with him. I tried to block the door so that the social workers couldn’t get in. I was on the bed holding him and crying when they came in and told me that they were going to take us somewhere else. 

My sister, brother, and I all went in separate cars to different foster homes. I felt so alone. From that point forward, I didn’t see my siblings much. 

Between the ages of six and twelve, I was in more foster homes than I can count on two hands. 

A lot of times, they didn’t explain to me why I was being moved. If they didn’t explain, I always thought it was my fault. I often asked myself, What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me?

When I was twelve, I was adopted by a woman who had two other adopted daughters. A lot of the time, things were good there. I have happy memories of holidays, vacations, and being part of a family. 

But I got in trouble sometimes for not following the rules. 

One night, I didn’t want to come home from my friend’s house across the street. When I was forced to come home, it escalated into a fight. 

The next day, we went to the courthouse. My adoptive mother left me there with all my stuff in trash bags. She confirmed what I believed – that every adult would leave me. 

After that, I lived in some group homes and continued to bounce around. Then, when I was fourteen, I met my forever family. I was dropped off at the family’s pizza shop. When I got to the house, I met the man who would become my dad. I ran up and gave him a hug. 

It was in that home that I learned the value of hard work, what it feels like to belong, and how to make the best pizza. I also learned a lot, through their examples, about overcoming challenges.

At 18, I graduated high school and signed up for college. 

I was transitioning to independent living and going to college classes while still working at my family’s pizza shop. Then, I got pregnant. 

I remember going to the store with my boyfriend Tony to get the test. And then, “Crap! This is really happening!?”

The social worker that I had been with since I was ten, told me about “this awesome program for teen parents” called Healthy Families.  

Healthy Families matched me with my home visitor Lisa. She opened up about her own life. She was always there for me and answered all my questions. She met with me every week, no matter what. I learned that I could count on her, like I couldn’t count on most others.

When Jayden was born, I was scared. 

I wasn’t ready to be a parent. Lisa helped me and my boyfriend Tony understand how to take care of a baby. She showed us the way and helped us become more confident parents.  

She helped us gain the tools we needed to create a safe, healthy home for Jayden. Something I strived for and wanted to make sure my son had since I didn’t. 

She also helped me set and achieve goals like going back to school and graduating the program that I had started, while still balancing work and being a parent. 

Years later, Tony and I went on to have another beautiful son Julian. 

Since the beginning, Healthy Families has really helped us co-parent. I honestly don’t think we would have managed to do that together if it wasn’t for Healthy Families. 

Healthy Families held groups where we met other young parents and shared our experiences. Those groups jump-started my career. I’m proud to say I’m a Lead Peer Specialist that facilitates groups like those I used to attend. 

I use my life experiences to help people who have been in similar situations to mine. My role allows me to help people get through some difficult times, like Healthy Families did for me. 

I look back now and wonder: Where would I be if it were not for Healthy Families? What if I didn’t have that support? What would have happened to my own children? 

In my heart of hearts, I believe things could have been very different. But, I did have Healthy Families – and I am here thriving. I am also in the process of being adopted as an adult by my forever family. 

I am so proud and grateful to say that Jayden, Julian, and I have a bright future.